BPS receives $1.5 million art grant

Boston Public Schools (BPS) has been awarded $1.5 million in grant funding from the Wallace Foundation to support its continuing expansion of arts education, according to a press release.

The money will directly support the Boston Public School Arts Expansion Initiative, an effort to expand arts education that was launched in February 2009 as a result of a partnership between Boston Public Schools and EdVestors. EdVestors is a Boston-based school improvement organization.

“I am honored that the Wallace Foundation has chosen to invest in our ongoing effort to increase the presence of quality arts education in the Boston Public Schools,” said Mayor Martin Walsh, according to the press release. “Through the Boston Creates cultural planning process, we are not only enriching the lives of our young people, but we are working towards ensuring a future where art will play a pivotal role in Boston’s cultural landscape.”

The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation that has already invested $4.8 million in the BPS system since the Arts Expansion Initiative began.

“The BPS Arts Expansion effort is an excellent model of true public/private partnership that is benefiting students in the Boston Public Schools,” said Tommy Chang, superintendent of BPS, according to the press release. “Our schools are focusing on the arts in a way that they never have thanks in large part to our partnership with private donors, and our students are reaping the rewards of that generosity.”

The grant will go towards implementation of new approaches to arts, including instruction, curriculum, and professional development for teachers.

“We know high-quality arts education provides important benefits to students—from exposure to new perspectives, to helping them learn how to learn,” said Daniel Windham, director of arts at the Wallace Foundation, according to the press release. “Boston has made substantial progress in improving access to arts education for all students, and we are pleased to join local foundations to help sustain the progress made.”

The number of Boston students in preschool through eighth grade that now receive weekly, year-long arts education since 2009 is at 93 percent, according to the press release. Access to arts education for high school students has more than doubled in that time.

“It’s exciting to see the continued growth of the Arts Expansion Initiative thanks to the enormous generosity of our community partners,” said Boston School Committee Chair Michael O’Neill, according to the press release. “We have seen how critical it is to our academic achievement that the arts be integrated in all our work. I am grateful for the Wallace Foundation and EdVestors for their ongoing partnership.”

The BPS Arts Expansion Initiative has collected $26 million this school year, an increase from 2009 when arts education was receiving $15 million annually. The funds mostly support BPS Arts Teachers, of which there have been 120 additional teachers working in BPS since 2009. Other local foundations in addition to the Wallace Foundation have funded the initiative, such as the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the Klarman Family Foundation, and the Linde Family Foundation.

For more details on the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative, visit edvestors.org.

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